Speed a key factor in crash that killed Red Deer teenager

The crash that killed a Red Deer teenager would have been a near miss if the offending vehicle had not been speeding, an expert witness testified at trial on Friday.

The crash that killed a Red Deer teenager would have been a near miss if the offending vehicle had not been speeding, an expert witness testified at trial on Friday.

Rodney Ross Arens, 36, is being tried in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench on criminal charges laid after a 2004 Dodge pickup heading north on Taylor Drive struck a southbound 2001 Honda Civic that was attempting to turn left onto Kerry Wood Drive on the evening of July 1, 2010.

Earlier witnesses testified to the large number of pedestrians using the intersection on their way to Bower Ponds to watch the fireworks, which were just about to start.

Anouluck “Jeffrey” Chanminaraj, 13, was killed in the impact. His older sister and brother, Stephanie and Jamie, were both injured. Stephanie, 20 at the time, was driving the car. Jamie, 18, was in the back while Jeffrey was in the front passenger seat.

Arens is charged with dangerous driving causing death, impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing injury, impaired driving causing injury and breaching release conditions.

Crown prosecutor Robin Snider advised Justice Kirk Sisson when court opened on Friday that she and second-counsel Wayne Silliker had stayed three counts of refusing to provide breath samples to crash investigators. The stay means the charges can be revisited at a later date, but are dismissed if not addressed within one year.

Snider called only one witness on Friday ­— Cpl. Donavan Gulak, a collision analyst and reconstructionist with Red Deer City RCMP.

She asked Gulak to address a report created by fellow reconstructionist Cpl. Gordon Baker (retired), who was unable to attend court for medical reasons.

Baker had determined that the truck was travelling at 79 km/h while the car was at 27 km/h at the point of collision, near the centre of the intersection.

There were no skid marks to indicate that either driver had attempted to brake before the impact, said Gulak, who worked with Baker on the report.

Travelling at 60 km/h, the truck would have taken one second longer to reach the intersection, giving the car enough time to get out of the way before it reached the impact point, said Gulak.

“Based on that one second, that collision would not take place,” he said.

Gouges in the pavement show the exact point of impact, while various other marks show how both vehicles spun clockwise before coming to rest. The impact was violent enough to tear the tire off the truck’s front right wheel, he said.

Evidence from the scene does not provide enough information to indicate whether either vehicle sped up or slowed down immediately before the collision, said Gulak.

While both vehicles were equipped with black boxes that monitor speed, braking and other vehicle information, neither vehicle had the type of system that would enable investigators to extract those details, said Gulak. The black boxes are part of the vehicle’s airbag system, he said.

Effective this year, all new vehicles must have black boxes that record what is going on during the final five to eight seconds before airbags are deployed, he said.

The only non-media member of the public to attend the trial on Friday, Stephanie Chanminaraj sat quietly in the gallery behind the Crown prosecutor with a box of tissues on the chair beside her.

She and Jamie both testified a week earlier.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

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